HERNE, Frederick (1667-1714), of St. Stephen, Coleman Street, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1698 - 15 Mar. 1714

Family and Education

b. 3 Mar. 1667, 1st s. of Sir Nathaniel Herne† by Judith, da. of Sir John Frederick†, ld. mayor of London; bro. of Nathaniel* and Thomas Herne*.  m. lic. 5 June 1688, Elizabeth Lisle of Eversley, Hants, 1s. d.v.p. 1da.  suc. fa. 1679.1

Offices Held

Cttee. Old E. I. Co. 1691–6, 1699–1703, 1704–7, dir. E. I. Co. 1709–d.; asst. Merchant Adventurers to N.W. America 1691, R. African Co. 1698–9.2

Commr. Million Act 1694; receiving subscriptions to land bank 1696; for settling trade with France Dec. 1713–d.3


Born into one of London’s premier mercantile dynasties, Herne was destined to enter the family business. He was still a minor when his father Sir Nathaniel died in 1679 and for the next 20 years the business was managed by Herne’s uncle Sir Joseph*. At an early age Herne became an important business figure in his own right, joining the board of the East India Company in 1691 when still in his early twenties, under the auspices of his uncle, who had lately been elected the company’s governor. In December of that year he enlisted among the ‘adventurers’ notified to the Commons as willing to pledge security for the Company’s stock, in his case to the value of £10,000. He was also party to several schemes for raising government funds, being appointed one of the commissioners to manage the ‘Million lottery’ in 1694, and subscribing £3,000 to the contract for the circulation of Exchequer bills in 1697. The sudden death of Sir Joseph’s fellow MP for the family’s pocket borough of Dartmouth shortly before the general election in July 1698 provided a convenient opportunity for Herne to enter Parliament, and on Sir Joseph’s demise the following February he assumed the management of both seats. He was classed at the outset of the new Parliament as a Country supporter, and in another list as likely to oppose the Court on the standing army issue. Initially, he made no showing in proceedings, and after February 1701, with the presence in the House of his younger brother Nathaniel, whom he had brought in at Dartmouth, the references in the Journals to ‘Mr Herne’ are impossible to clarify. Most references concern trade and commerce, in which both brothers were actively engaged. With their joint involvement in the City, either could have been the ‘Mr Herne’ responsible, for instance, for the bill authorized on 13 Dec. 1704 for increasing the permitted number of brokers. An analysis of the House according to ‘interests’, compiled some time between January and May 1700, noted his connexion with the Old East India Company. He was listed in February 1701 as likely to support the Court in agreeing with a supply resolution to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’, but was later blacklisted as opposing the preparations for war against France. At the beginning of the December 1701 Parliament he was classed as a Tory by Robert Harley*, and on 26 Feb. 1702 voted for the resolution vindicating the Commons’ proceedings in the impeachments of the Junto ministers.4

From early in 1702 Herne was involved in a partnership which included his uncle’s old associate Sir Stephen Evance* and Sir Theodore Janssen† for remitting payments to the army in Flanders. On 13 Feb. 1703 he voted against agreeing with the Lords’ amendments for extending the time allowed for taking the oath of abjuration. He was forecast in October 1704 as a probable supporter of the Tack, and voted accordingly on 28 Nov. The extent of his wealth was illustrated in March 1705 when, on his daughter’s marriage to Viscount Villiers (William*), the eventual 2nd Earl of Jersey, he provided a dowry estimated at £40,000. In a list published just after the 1705 election he was classed as ‘True Church’ and in the debate on the Speakership on 25 Oct. he both spoke and voted against the Court candidate. On 6 Dec. 1707 he and several other back-bench Tories caused surprise by supporting rather than attacking the Admiralty over the question of its protection of mercantile shipping. He was again noted as a Tory in a list of early 1708. On 9 Mar. 1709 he was named one of the drafters of a bill to ensure the more effectual prohibition of wine imports from France. He voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell in 1710 and was classified as a Tory in the post-electoral ‘Hanover list’. During the first session of the ensuing Parliament he featured as a ‘Tory patriot’ voting for peace and as a ‘worthy patriot’ who helped to detect the mismanagements of the old administration. In the hard-fought April elections to the East India board, however, both he and his brother, as long-serving Company men, appeared on the ‘Whig’ or ‘establishment’ list of proposed directors rather than on the ‘ministerial’ slate, and both were duly re-elected. On 25 May 1711 he voted with the Whigs against an amendment to the South Sea Company bill, vesting the right to appoint the company’s first directorate in the crown. Unlike his younger brother Nathaniel, however, he supported the government’s new commercial policy towards France, voting on 18 June 1713 for the French commerce bill, and in mid-December was one of the five commissioners appointed to negotiate its final details. He also used this means of access to the Board of Trade to further the trading interests of his constituency, laying before the board on 11 Feb. 1714 a representation concerning the Newfoundland fishery drawn up by the corporation and merchants of Dartmouth. Owing to his appointment to office he was required to undergo re-election, but died suddenly in London on 15 Mar., a few days before the election, and was buried at St. Bride’s. The last evidence of his party-political allegiance was his appearance in the Worsley list, whose compiler described him as a Tory. In the absence of a male heir, he left his estate, consisting of property in Kent, Middlesex and the City, to his brother Joseph.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. St. Olave, Hart Street (Harl. Soc. Reg. xlvi), 74; Top. and Gen. iii. 509; Mar. Lic. Vicar-Gen. (Harl. Soc. xxxi), 65; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 291–2.
  • 2. Add. 38871, ff. 9–18; CSP Dom. 1690–1, p. 527; K. G. Davies, R. African Co. 382.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 553; CJ, xii. 509; Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletter 17 Dec. 1713.
  • 4. CJ, x. 602; Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 553; Univ. of London Lib., MS 65, item 3.
  • 5. Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 20; xix. 316, 538; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. vi. 450; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 287; Boyer, Pol. State, i–ii. 263; Newdigate newsletters 17 Dec. 1713, 16 Mar. 1714; Jnl. Commrs. for Trade and Plantations 1709–15, pp. 509, 512; Le Neve’s Knights, 292; PCC 51 Aston.